Ways to buy.

1. Bidding at auction

In a buoyant market, auctions are often the preferred way to sell. Potential buyers bid against each other until only one bidder is left. If the bid meets the "reserve" price, (the price at which the vendor is prepared to sell the property), the house is sold.

When you buy at auction you're making an unconditional offer. This means that, once you sign the agreement, you're legally bound to buy the property for the agreed amount, on the agreed date. For this reason, it pays to take legal advice before you take part in an auction.

You'll need to arrange full approval for any home loan and do all the property checks beforehand, because once you are a successful bidder, the purchase is unconditional.

2. Offer and negotiation

You make an offer through the real estate agent. The seller may accept your offer straight away, but it's likely that you'll enter into a negotiation process, where the seller makes a "counter-offer" - a price they are willing to accept. In this situation you may not be the only one who has put in an offer.

Your offer can be "conditional" - you can put in conditions that let you check the place out before you're fully committed, or give you time to sort out your home loan. Or it can be "unconditional" - you and the seller simply need to agree on the price. 

Negotiations can take hours or weeks. Make sure the final price is one you believe is fair and can afford.

3. Tender or set date of sale

With a tender or set date of sale method, you make a written bid for the property. It needs to be your best and final offer, as everyone else who's interested in the property will put in their offer at the same time. You're unlikely to get a chance to negotiate with this form of sale.

The seller may accept the highest offer or decide to negotiate with the person whose offer they like best. Or they could reject the offers.

If your offer is accepted, you're committed to buying the property and have a set amount of time to meet all the sale conditions.

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Things you should know.

1 Conditional approval requires a credit check and confirmation of the details provided in your application. Other conditions may also apply depending on the nature of your application.

Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Westpac's home loan lending criteria and terms and conditions apply. An establishment charge may apply. A low equity margin may apply. An additional fee or higher interest rate may apply to home loans if the application is accepted but does not meet the standard lending criteria.